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Latest on "consensus" resolution

U.S. Eases Stance on Iraq Arms Monitors

Concessions Aimed at Winning Russian Support at U.N. Could Hasten
Sanctions' End

By Colum Lynch
Special to The Washington Post
Saturday, December 11, 1999; Page A24 

The United States and Britain are pushing for a vote as early as Monday on
a U.N. Security Council resolution that would offer to ease the 9-year-old
embargo on Iraq if Saddam Hussein's government allows U.N. weapons
inspectors to return to the country and fully cooperates with them for
some period of time.

To avert a Russian veto, diplomats said, the United States agreed to
consider shortening that test period. U.S. negotiators previously insisted
on a minimum of 180 days of Iraqi cooperation, while Russia called for 60
days. While the two sides have not yet reached agreement, the United
States has indicated a willingness to compromise, diplomats said.

The United States also agreed to soften its opposition to the resumption
of commercial flights to and from Baghdad. The latest draft of the
resolution would allow flights for religious pilgrimages; it also holds
out the possibility of lifting prohibitions on the "delivery" of various

French diplomats interpret "delivery" to include transport by air, road
and sea, although they acknowledge that the term is deliberately
ambiguous, leaving the difficult question to be decided in the future.

A senior Clinton administration official said today the United States
would not rule out a case-by-case exemption of flights carrying commercial
goods, but he cautioned that the United States was not prepared to allow
Iraq to resume business as usual. "We are willing to look at practical
arrangements," he said. "But if you are asking about a major change on
civil aviation, the answer is a flat no. We would definitely not agree."

The United States has refused to budge, however, on its position that Iraq
must demonstrate "full cooperation" with arms inspectors before
suspensions can be eased, according to U.S. officials. And the United
States has insisted that tight controls be maintained on the use of any
Iraqi oil revenue.

"The Americans have given a serious, substantive response to Russia," said
an official close to the talks. "But there are limits to how much Russia
can be accommodated."

Russia's U.N. ambassador, Sergei Lavrov, so far has refused to say whether
his government will block the resolution, introduced by Britain, to
establish a new U.N. arms control agency and send inspectors back into
Iraq. The previous U.N. Special Commission, or UNSCOM, was evacuated on
the eve of a U.S.-British airstrike one year ago.

But Lavrov indicated today that the American concessions did not go far
enough. "The problem with this resolution is, it is very ambiguous, the
trigger is ambiguous, and the scope of suspension is ambiguous," he said.

The 15-member Security Council, meanwhile, voted today to permit Iraq to
sell $5.26 billion of oil over the next six months to purchase food,
medicine and humanitarian goods. The "oil for food" arrangement had been
renewed for shorter periods in recent weeks as Russia and the United
States sought to use it as a lever in the broader talks.

Baghdad halted oil exports to protest the stopgap extensions but indicated
that it would resume pumping if the council passed the six-month renewal.
Iraqi oil exports are expected to resume in mid-December. 

) Copyright 1999 The Washington Post Company




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